Opinion

Iron and Mining in our Daily Lives

Can we live without the aid of mining now a days? No. It’s really hard not to. Not because we are a developing country, not because we are surging forward towards industrialization. But because, mining and the things we get from mining is part of our lives – whether we like it or not.

As I pound the keys of my tablet, enjoy the cool breeze of our inverter aircon, feel safe under the sturdy and durable roof above my head which keeps me dry from the rain and safe from burglars, I have the major metals found in the earth like iron ore to be thankful for.

Iron ore or the main ingredient in steel, is without doubt a major factor in our daily living. Every second of our lives, we use steel. From the clothes we wear (the machines were made of steel), from the food we eat (the food were transported using vehicles made from steel), from the water we drink (water passes thru metal pipes), we rely on steel. And to harvest steel we mine. Iron ores is one of the earth’s most abundant rock elements and it where metallic iron is extracted. Iron ore makes up about 5% of the Earth’s crust and is the 4th most common element in the world. Australia has the best quality of iron ore in the world and this is the country where it is found abundantly.

In the Philippines, there is only one iron-producing mine in the country namely the Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp. Its operation was recently suspended by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as part of its audit on all the mining firms in the country.

Mining has been part of our lives as early as 1521. It helps produce jobs, improve lives in the community and contribute to the growing economy of our country. To engage in mining here in the Philippines requires so many permits and heavy payments. There are laws too like the Philippine Mining Act that must be followed.

Since the Philippines is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the volcanic activities has produced different minerals for our country. The Philippines is ranked as the 5th most mineral-rich country in the world for copper, nickel, gold and chromite. Globally, the Philippines places third as the largest gold producer, fourth for copper and fifth for nickel. Gold is being responsibly mined in Masbate by Filminera and Masbate Gold Project. Mining has pushed other country’s economy – like that of Canada and Australia – to great heights. They practice responsible mining and it reflects on how they rehabilitate their environment before, during and after mining.

All mining companies are also being called to practice responsible mining. Responsible Mining is the best solution to address all problems concerning mining. As mining cannot help but cause environmental and social change, responsible mining calls for all mining industries to (a) AVOID or MINIMIZE harm to the environment (with good environmental management plans at hand implemented long-term), (b) respect human rights and provide jobs to the local community (c) create a very safe workplace for people and the environment and lastly (d) responsible mining demands the mining industries to leave a good legacy in that community thru building infrastructures like roads, schools, hospitals and others. Mining is a very lucrative business that is why the world demands it to be morally, socially and ethically responsible at all times.

Is The Closure of Some Mining Firms in the Philippines Necessary?

Mining companies in the Philippines have long been abusing the country. The oligarchs and politicians own some of these companies and have truly taken advantage of the system for many years.This is the reason that the Philippine government has started cracking down on mining companies who are not complying with government and international standards. I think that the closure of mines around the country is a very good step into cracking down on environmental abuse.

Alot of mining communities have been affected but most of these are because of violations and as many people have seen there are still mining operators in the country who have been properly complying with government laws and standards.

According to an Article in Philippine Star (link here) These firms have made over 82% of the profit for themselves and their company. They have not created opportunities for the communities they are involved in. There have also been mines that have been suspended due to violations.

Most of these sanctions have affected alot of workers in these mining companies however DENR Secretary Gina Lopez believes that area development is more important than short-term gains with mine that threaten the local community in the long-run.

So does the Philippine Government want to ban all kinds of mining?

I don’t actually believe this since there are still mining companies out there that have been allowed to continue their operations nationwide. These mining companies have been cleared of any wrongdoing and have been operating for a very long time.

An example of one of the companies that have not been sanctioned is Filminera Resources who co-own Masbate Gold Project with 1 other Filipino firm and a Canadian Partner. They have been deemed to be following the protocols set by the government. According to one article in Rappler (link here) Filminera Resources was not charged due to insufficient evidence that environmental damage is due to Filminera’s Mining activities. It has been junked by the court of appeals in the region of Masbate.

As you can see, mining in the Philippines is allowed and it is high time that we start sanctioning the people who have been abusing the Philippine’s natural environment. The message has been sent and it’s loud and clear: Mine Responsibly or Be Shut Down.